3 For Thursday: Best second-half comebacks
The Vancouver Whitecaps are determined, it seems, to give MLS fans their money’s worth and more when it comes to excitement. You just have to make sure you stick around until the final whistle.
Empire Field has now seen three second-half stoppage-time goals in the last two games. The first two of those goals gave the ‘Caps a famous draw against Sporting Kansas City last weekend; the last was scored Wednesday night by the New England Revolution to steal a point from a Vancouver team that played a man down for 45 minutes (and two men down for 18 of those minutes).
WATCH: Highlights: VAN 1 - 1 NE
Comebacks, last-second goals, stoppage-time insanity: Vancouver are etching their place in MLS history already.
Let’s take a look at some of their company in that club (regular-season only, by the way):
[inline_node:333210]1) Rocky Mountain Madness
The 2010 Rocky Mountain Cup between the eventual MLS Cup champion Colorado Rapids and CONCACAF Champions League finalists Real Salt Lake featured two second-half stoppage-time comebacks, both at the expense of the Rapids.
The first, in Utah, saw Nat Borchers head home a cross to snag a tie and preserve RSL’s undefeated streak at Rio Tinto.
But the second was even better. Colorado led 2-0 heading into stoppage, at which point RSL’s Alvaro Saborio took the game into his own hands.
He closed down Rapids 'keeper Matt Pickens on a punt, deflecting the outlet and tapping it into the empty net to make it 2-1. Just a minute later, RSL won a penalty and Saborío stepped up to give his team the draw.
It was a brutal night for the Rapids, and perhaps the highlight of 2010 for RSL. Not only did the Rio Tinto boys stun their bitter rivals, but they did so in front of a packed house and took the Rocky Mountain Cup back to Utah for yet another year.
2) Bitter Eastern Rivals
Lost in the deluge of expansion, retirements and roster reshaping is the memory of what probably one of the two best rivalries of the last decade: New England vs. Chicago.
The high point in that feud came on June 11, 2006, in a game every bit as wild as anything we’ve seen from Vancouver.
Nate Jaqua gave the Fire a first-half lead, and then doubled it in the 79th minute. With three minutes left in the game, madness ensued.
Taylor Twellman cut the lead in half in the 87th minute, but, as the game entered stoppage time, Calen Carr gave the Fire back their two-goal cushion. The Revs, however, didn’t stop.
Showing the mettle that would take them to their second of three straight MLS Cup finals, New England answered Carr’s stoppage-time goal with two of their own through Steve Ralston and Andy Dorman (pictured celebrating above).
The game ended 3-3 and the teams would get to renew hostilities in the first round of that year’s MLS Cup Playoffs – a contest again won by New England.
In goal for Chicago on that day was Zach Thornton, who was also involved in...
[inline_node:333213]3) The Original Comeback
As far as second-half rallies go, it’s hard to top the first multi-goal fight-back in MLS history.
On May 4, 1996, at the Meadowlands, a restless crowd of 38,000 gathered in hopes that the MetroStars could break their duck and get their first MLS win. The team entered the game against eventual Supporters’ Shield-winners Tampa Bay Mutiny with an 0-3 record and just one goal to their credit.
After a scoreless first 45, Tampa’s Carlos Valderrama picked apart the defense Thornton was trying to direct in place of the injured Tony Meola for three quick Mutiny goals. It was only then that MetroStars head coach Eddie Firmani subbed on talismanic striker Gio Savarese, and with less than 20 minutes left, everything changed.
First, Tampa defender Cle Kooiman headed into his own net to make it 3-1. Then Savarese got the better of a Mutiny defender in the box to make it 3-2. Two minutes later Savarese struck again, this time in spectacular fashion.
Rubén Darío Hernández provided his only career highlight in the United States with some neat work down the flank and then a cross into the six-yard box. Savarese was there waiting and bicycle-kicked home the equalizer.
Thornton went on to play the hero in the shootout and the New York franchise had its first win.